Well the big push in the garden is over. Mum is due to arrive for her first visit to the house, and indeed to Ireland and, apart from some pointing on the paving, all the hard landscaping is done. We had solar panels fitted last week – well they started last week but had issues with our roof – and yesterday they started generating power. And as if that was not enough, the 38 tonnes of stone for the drive arrived in three loads yesterday and from 8.30 to 15.30 you can guess what we were doing, raking and shovelling in what was probably the hottest day of the year, so far. But, back to plants.
Above is a variegated lilac: Syringa emodi ‘Variegata’. By some strange and very random coincidence, the plain green Syringa emodi was possibly the first shrub I ever grew from seed and I can’t actually remember what happened to them, since I was about 10. They did grow but I can’t remember where they were planted. As a lilac, it is a bit of a washout. It is native to the western Himalaya and flowers later than the common lilac. But, when the pale pink or white flowers open it reveals the relationship between lilacs and privets because the flowers, frankly, smell pretty awful. But ‘Variegata’ doesn’t need to bloom to earn a place in the garden because the leaves are brilliant! I fell in love with this at a garden centre two years ago and bought it even though it was a leggy specimen and a bit ‘poodly’ with some growth at the base and a 2m stalk with a tuft at the top. I could not bear to cut off the leggy stem and left it. In another year the base will grow enough to cover the bare middle. As a foliage plant it is colourful and it is completely hardy and has survived all the wind without a flinch.
Another new plant, added last spring and now flowering for the first time, is a rather special iris. ‘Aichi no Kagayaki’ is a ‘pseudata’ iris, a cross between the vigorous Iris pseudacorus and the Japanese Iris ensata.
There are lots now and all are very desirable and show amazing flower patterns but I think that ‘Aichi no Kagayaki’ was one of the very first, bred in the 1990s. As such it is not the most amazingly patterned but it is a smashing thing. The foliage is lemon and lime in spring and early summer and the first bloom has just opened. As you might expect from such a ‘wide’ cross, the flowers are not fertile and it does not seed like Iris pseudacorus. It should grow in water or damp soil but mine is in the normal border now, though I will experiment as it gets bigger and I get brave enough to divide it. It is one of those plats that just makes me smile. The name translates as ‘bright inspiration’.
And so, the garden.
The drive – or part of it
The area next to the main pond
The lower ponds
Now, where is the vacuum cleaner..